© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sits in a 2019 Chevrolet Traverse, assembled in Lansing, Michigan, at the General Motors display area during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., May 15. January 1, 2019. REUTERS/Re
By Kanishka Singh and Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – The leader of a plot foiled by members of right-wing militia groups to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Tuesday in US District Court, prosecutors member said.
Adam Fox, 39, was found guilty in August by a federal jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan, of one count of conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, and conspiracy to use weapons gas of mass destruction in a scheme that prosecutors say was intentional. to spark a “second American revolution.”
Co-defendant Barry Croft Jr., 47, who, like Fox, is a member of the Three Percenters militia group, was convicted on the same charges in the same trial and is scheduled for sentencing Wednesday. .
Prosecutors described Fox as the mastermind behind a plot to break into Whitmer’s motel, kidnap her with a gun, and put her on “trial” for bogus treason charges and face charges of treason. death penalty.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jonker said he doesn’t think a life sentence, as demanded by prosecutors, is appropriate, but that the charges require a “severe sentence,” the Detroit newspaper said. News reported. Fox declined to speak during sentencing and had no reaction to the verdict, the report added.
Prosecutors said the judge also imposed five years of house arrest in addition to the 192-month prison sentence.
Fox’s attorney has said that prosecutors overstated his role. The attorney added that Fox and Croft never used explosives and that the group would never be able to actually kidnap the governor.
Prosecutors said the plot, which stemmed from the group’s opposition to public health measures Whitmer imposed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, was intended to plunge the country into armed conflict. page as the controversial presidential race approaches in November 2020.
The weapon of mass destruction involved was a bomb that prosecutors said the masterminds planned to detonate to hinder law enforcement’s response to the kidnapping.
Whitmer, co-chair of Joe Biden’s White House campaign that year, openly clashed with then-President Donald Trump over her COVID-19 policies.
She accused Trump of inciting political extremism by repeatedly directing fiery rhetoric on the issue, including a campaign rally in Michigan where criticism of her he to Whitmer caused the crowd to chant “Lock her up”.
Fox and Croft were among 13 men arrested in October 2020 in a kidnapping plot.
Two others who were brought to trial with them in federal court were acquitted in April 2022. The same jury failed to reach a verdict for Fox and Croft, which resulted in them being acquitted. wrongfully judged.
Two other men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap testified to the prosecution at the first federal trial and in Fox and Croft’s retrial about four months later.
Two cooperating witnesses, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, were sentenced to two and a half years and four years in prison, respectively.
Three other men were tried together in state court and convicted in October 2022 for playing a supporting role in a conspiracy when members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia were recently convicted of crimes against humanity. Minimum sentences are 10, 12 and 7 years in prison, respectively.